The Delhi High Court on Monday closed the proceedings in a petition by the Delhi Waqf Board anticipating demolition of a 150-year-old mosque at the Sunehri Bagh Road roundabout after the city’s civic body said the petitioner has not reason to harbour such an apprehension.
The counsel for the Delhi Waqf Board submitted they apprehend action by the New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) dehors (outside of) the legal position, and urged the court to protect them from “such an arbitrary and illegal action”.
However, the counsel for the NDMC vehemently opposed the submission and contended there was no basis for the petitioner to apprehend that the respondent will act dehors the legal position and added if the authorities were to take any action, they are bound to follow the extant regulations.
Justice Purushaindra Kumar Kaurav disposed of the petition while recording the statement of Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, representing the NDMC.
“Since the parties are largely agreed on the aforesaid issue therefore, at this stage, this court is not required to adjudicate the prayer anymore. Accordingly the parties are directed to be bound by the undertaking recorded here. The petition is disposed of,” the high court said.
Senior advocate Sanjoy Ghose, representing the Delhi Waqf Board, submitted whatever the authorities are intending to do, shall be done in accordance with the law.
The high court, which was hearing the plea that sought restraining the NDMC from causing any harm to the mosque, had earlier passed an interim order directing the authorities to maintain status quo.
The NDMC had told the court that a joint inspection was carried out during which it was observed that the mosque was required to be removed and the land used for safe and smooth flow of traffic.
The NDMC, in its reply to the petition, had earlier said it acted upon the letter of the Delhi traffic police in view of the increase in traffic, and joint inspection was carried out twice. The officials concerned unanimously concluded that the religious structure is required to be removed/ relocated, it had said.
It had said it the land was required to be utilised for redesigning the roundabout to facilitate safe and smooth flow of traffic.
The petition also claimed several waqf properties were recently “demolished overnight in a brazen display of highhandedness” without following the legal procedure.
There is a clear and apparent danger of demolition of the mosque under reference in a malafide and arbitrary manner, it said.
“The modus operandi is that a waqf property, even if it is century old, is marked as obstructing right of way or the movement of traffic and soon thereafter, in a surreptitious manner, a decision is taken to remove it. The waqf property/ religious structure is then cordoned off and is razed either in wee hours or in the dead of night in the presence of heavy policy force or paramilitary force,” the petition said.
It said the mosque, which has been “in existence from at least more than 150 years”, was popular and it catered to a large number of devotees.
“All five times compulsory prayers, Friday prayers and Eid Prayers are offered at the mosque under reference. A regular Imam and a Muazzin is assigned to the mosque under reference by the petitioner,” it said.
“The photographs taken by the technical team of the petitioner on July 3, 2023, that is, a Monday, clearly demonstrate that the congestion is not because of the roundabout, on which the mosque under reference is situated, but because of the uncontrolled parking of vehicles on the both carriageways of Motilal Nehru Marg,” the plea claimed.